NIH action plan charts future challenges for liver disease research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today released the trans-NIH Action Plan for Liver Disease Research, a comprehensive plan that addresses the burden of liver diseases in the United States and maps out challenges for future research. The Action Plan is available on-line at http://liverplan.niddk.nih.gov.

"Over the last 25 years medical research in liver disease has greatly improved the survival and quality-of-life of patients with liver disease," said Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the NIH institute with lead responsibility for drafting the plan. "This trans-NIH plan summarizes challenges to advancing liver disease research and delineates the major goals for future research."

Goals of the Action Plan for Liver Disease Research include:

  • Improving the success rate of therapy of hepatitis C. The currently recommended regimen of antiviral therapy results in long-term viral eradication in only 50-60 percent of patients; therefore, improved therapies are needed to benefit more patients with hepatitis C.

  • Developing noninvasive ways to measure liver fibrosis. Currently, liver biopsy is the standard means of evaluating the severity of liver disease both in clinical practice as well as in clinical trials of new therapies. Availability of reliable and safe means of measuring fibrosis (tissue scarring) and cirrhosis (excessive scarring and destruction of liver structure) would improve management of liver disease and facilitate clinical research.

  • Developing sensitive and specific means of screening individuals at high risk for early hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). Liver cancer is often fatal and difficult to diagnose at an early stage when it is easier to treat and possible to cure by surgery. Simple and accurate diagnostic techniques could detect liver cancer early and improve patien

  • Contact: Marcia Vital
    NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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